Announcing Judges For Co.Labs & Target Retail Accelerator (And How To Impress Them)

Top engineering minds from Dropbox, Github, Mixpanel, Target, and want to see how you imagine the retail experience extended by apps and mobile web.

Announcing Judges For Co.Labs & Target Retail Accelerator (And How To Impress Them)

We’ve been amazed at the pedigree of the people who are building apps for the Target & Co.Labs Retail Accelerator. Now we’re stepping up the level of play.


For the first time we’re announcing the judges for the contest. Hailing from Dropbox, Github, Mixpanel, Target, and, these five minds will engage in a formidable (but friendly!) shouting match about what makes a killer retail app. Then they’ll narrow down the entries to seven in the semi-finals, and narrow again down to one to find the winner. Without further ado, they are:

Ruchi Sanghvi, Dropbox

Ruchi Sanghvi is the VP of Operations at Dropbox. She was also the first female engineer at Facebook, where she co-created and managed News Feed, Facebook Platform, Facebook Connect and Facebook’s Developer Conference F8. She landed at Dropbox via the company’s first acquisition–her startup Cove, which built collaboration and communication software for midsize companies.

Tom Preston-Werner, Github

Tom Preston-Werner is cofounder and CEO of Github, which was founded in 2008 and recently raised $100 million from Andreessen Horowitz to bring source code management into the cloud. He’s now focused on creating tools for Github that are easy for non-programmers to use–such as technical writers, designers, or managers. He envisions someday coding inside a perfectly egg-shaped office.

Suhail Doshi, Mixpanel

Suhail Doshi is the CEO of Mixpanel. Mixpanel is a Y Combinator company with the mission of helping the world learn from its data. Some of the customers that use Mixpanel’s mobile analytics solutions for web and native apps are Path, Airbnb and Kickstarter. A true coder-at-heart, Suhail was black box testing and teaching himself Visual Basic and SQL in the eighth grade. And by the time he was 23, he had the likes of Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital and Max Levchin investing in Mixpanel. Nerdy? Maybe. Data-driven. Absolutely.

Matt Mankins, FastCompany

Matt Mankins is CTO of and a researcher, inventor, and entrepreneur with degrees from the MIT Media Laboratory and the University of Miami. Mankins works to apply digital technologies to longstanding human activities, such as the growth of cities or the economics of creativity. He is cofounder of numerous companies, including EMUmail, In-a-Moon, and Crounty, and owns the Lorem Ipsum Bookstore in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Casey Carl, Target

Casey Carl is President, Multichannel, and Senior Vice President, Enterprise Strategy, for Target, where he oversees and Mobile Merchandising and Experience, in addition to Enterprise Strategy. He joined Target in 1997, where he has held a variety of roles in areas including Buying, Negotiations and Operations.

Don’t forget, the deadline for entries is April 30, 2013. Learn more about the contest here. Enter your team here.

What The Judges Want To See

We’re talking to the judges as the entries roll in. As they tell us what they’re looking for in the entries, we’ll post their answers here to help you hit the mark.

Casey Carl, Target: “Mobile is the connective tissue that brings together the best of online and offline into one seamless experience. We want to see apps that develop that constant connection for our guests. Internally, we talk a lot about disseminating different experiences on phones [versus] tablets. How people are using them is dramatically different. Our guest uses her tablet on the couch, with the TV on, to do more shopping, purchasing, accessing content. People use smartphones to access information instantaneously. You need to tailor the user experience accordingly. Look at what’s relevant to the guest and how you can make that experience better. For me, that factor will have the greatest weight.”

Suhail Doshi, Mixpanel: “The best projects I’ve seen are driven by a clear, impactful vision and have a strong design. I’ve seen too many people fail because their vision is too small and they made the design and how that impacts the experience of their customers an afterthought. For commerce apps, they need to focus on giving their customers a smooth path to purchase. You need to get them from your homepage through the purchase with no roadblocks.”

About the author

I've written about innovation, design, and technology for Fast Company since 2007. I was the co-founding editor of FastCoLabs